Page last updated at 11:01 GMT, Thursday, 19 February 2009

Seafront landmark to be reopened

St Mary in the Castle
The landmark St Mary in the Castle overlooks Hastings seafront

A new leaseholder has been found to reopen an historic seafront building after a Christian group moved out at the beginning of the year.

Hastings cafe owner Barbara Rogers is to run St Mary in the Castle as a cafe, conference and meetings venue, arts centre and exhibition centre.

Hastings council said she was taking on the lease for one year initially.

"I have had my eye on St Mary in the Castle for a long time," said Ms Rogers. "It is a wonderful building."

The listed Georgian landmark, built into the cliff on the East Sussex seafront, is the centrepiece of Pelham Crescent.

It was renovated and refurbished in 1997 for use as an arts centre, with a theatre with flexible staging and semi-circular seating.

'Keep costs low'

Sonrise Church held services and other events at St Mary in the Castle until January, when it pulled out of its five-year lease early.

Ms Rogers said: "We will have a very small team, and the secret is keeping costs low.

"This building is incredibly versatile and I have had wonderful support from St Mary in the Castle Friends and also from community groups in Hastings."

The cafe is due to open on 14 March, with the rest of the venue open for bookings from 16 March.



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